Lawren Harris’s sketch of Nerke, Greenland sold for $1.8 million, far beyond its pre-sale estimate of $300,000 to $500,000, at the Sotheby’s Canada auction on Monday.
According to the Virtual Museum of Canada, “Lawren Harris strove to embody the spiritual essence of the universe through simplified, archetypal forms and a mystical light that appears to radiate from within the canvas. One of his favoured subjects was the mountains of the Arctic north, where he believed the spiritual energies of the world originated.
Mountains carried symbolic meaning for Harris, “The primal mountains, forged into being by forces beyond human comprehension, were metaphors for the presence and power of a life force that animates the universe.” His mountain paintings were the last representational works he painted before turning to pure abstraction, but the mountain form would continue to be a central preoccupation in his work.”
“I think the Canadian market is different from other markets in the world,” David Silcox, president of Sotheby’s Canada, said ahead of Monday’s sale. “We didn’t have the kind of hyper-inflation that I think some of the other markets of the world were afflicted by.”
Sotheby’s put conservative estimates on the collection “so that the market will decide what it’s actually worth,” he said.
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